May 11, 2023

Photo Album Project - How I print our family and kids albums

I decided I wanted to make printed albums after reading Andrea Dekker's blog for 10ish years and seeing how lovely her kids albums were.  I realized quickly that I needed to set standards LOW or I wouldn't finish an album.  My first album has month labels at the start of each month, and barely any text.  My plan was to make a family album each calendar year, and then albums for each of the kids based on their birthdays.  

The first album I printed was Isaac 1-2, printed just after his second birthday.  I did go back and print Isaac 0-1 later, although I had far fewer photos.  I had taken lots of photos of him, but they were mostly random whatsapp photos and not really "nice" photos.  

Three years on, we have a growing collection of albums:
Every month I upload all the photos from the smart-camera into Snapfish, and then I update the two kids albums and the family album.  I generally try to do this in the first two weeks of the month.  The kids albums take about 20 minutes each, I don't usually add any captions and I chuck lots of photos in.  I also take photos of all their nursery art and each month they get a page or two dedicated to all their nursery art.  I throw away 80% of what they bring home from nursery after I take a photo of it.  My house would be overrun with art otherwise.  

I've started to get more involved in the family albums, adding captions and additional details about the photos.  This year I'm writing a short monthly summary on the first page of the album.  I'm not sure I'll keep this up, there is a fine line between making better albums and making my process so involved that I don't want to do them.

I keep reminding myself that done is better than perfect.  My albums have typos.  They sometimes have too many photos. Sometimes I forget which kid did art and put the photo in the wrong book.  But done is better than perfect.

I like flipping through the albums to remember what we did in any year.  It makes me realize that the remembering self and the experiencing self are so different.  As in, there are events I loved but can't really remember, until I see a photo.  And times that were really hard, but that I remember fondly now (for instance, I saw a photo of 6 month old Isaac.  I remember that time as very hard, but he was very *aww* in memory)

The kids can flip through the albums too, and like to read them and talk about it.  Because I can print new ones if needed I am not super precious about them.  If they get broken then it's only money to fix it.  

I always wait until Snapfish offer 50% off (including extra pages!) before ordering.  I had to wait almost a month to print my January album - I think a lot of people make a resolution to print albums.  Eventually Snapfish do a 50% off sale, so the albums are £50-ish instead of £100.  I started this project during Covid - the Covid year was by far the shortest album.  2021 has many more photos than needed, probably because I was so happy to do things again.

I tape any family cards into the back page of the albums.  Our holiday card will be on the back of the family album.  Any birthday cards or birth announcements will be on the back page of the kids albums. 

I am trying to keep the whole process to under 1 hour a month.  It should be fun.  I love printing the albums and it's another thing I look forward to in the fall... Lilah gets hers after her September birthday, Isaac in October, and the family album in January.  

In 2022 I started the family album with a photo of each room of our house and the garden.  I tried to take the same photos in January 2023, so we can see how much our house changes year to year.

We also love the photo albums because it helps us look at photos far more than if we kept it all on google photos or icloud.  I know one can get lost scrolling through photos on an iphone, but there's something lovely about flipping pages.  Plus, I start to resent paying forever storage fees to companies to store my photos - once printed, I know they will last*

*I realize this is a total historian debate.  What's more reliable, microfiche or online portals?  Scans or preserved originals? I find personally my older digital data is not always super accessible, but I know exactly where my family photo albums are

Do you print albums?  How do you store your photos?  Do you take lots of photos or not very many?


  1. I have all of my photos from the past 15 years in Google photos and I love taking out my phone and scrolling through my albums and how easy it is to share them.

    BUT digital stuff only exists in the digital world and there's very much a place in the "real" world for "real" photos. In particular I know my parents would appreciate photo books and it's on my list to figure out someday.

    1. I think if I had committed to one method of digital storage then I would probably be more set on it. I think I have an external hard drive somewhere with all my photos pre 2012, then my husband mostly took photos from 2012-2018, then I have another backup of my photos from 2018 to 2022 (although It's on my husbands server which I can never remember how to access). It might not be that printed albums are easier, it might be that my chaotic approach to digital storage over the last 10 years led me to decide I was going to print albums.

      It's very cool that you have 15 years in one please :-)

  2. Oh boy, I could talk A LOT about photobooks. I have been making them for a decade and make one giant book for each year. It is A LOT of work, but so worth it. I also wait for sales.

    Here in Canada, I use a company called Blurb and I've been really happy with their products, and especially appreciate they have a desktop app, so I can drag and drop photos easily (don't have to upload them to the web first), and then upload the book only once it's completed.

    With Blurb, you can pay $4.99 to get a high quality PDF copy of your book, so I always do that so that if something happened to my paper copies, I could print off another book (even via a different company)

    1. A friend of ours used blurb! I love the idea of a desktop app and getting a PDF copy of albums. I don't always think Snapfish is the best quality but now that I've got a system it's hard to shift. Every month I upload my photos into a monthly photo album in Snapfish and then use that album to populate the photo books... I don't really keep photos on my computer. I don't think my 12 year old mac can even install new programmes anymore.

      When we get a family computer I will definitely look at switching to Blurb as everyone I've spoken with is so happy with it.

  3. I made a HUMONGOUS photo book every year and I pretty much throw everything into it: good, bad, even ugly (i.e pictures of us with covid). All those are memories. I use shutterfly and once they have an "unlimited pages" deal, I'm on it. They also have a service where they will create a book for you- and from what I have so far, they do a good job.

    My kids love to look through those books and reminisce. :)

    1. Oh I have never seen an "unlimited pages" deal here! I would go mad for it! I haven't used the "create a book" feature but I may try it someday. I use their premade page layouts all the time but I bet it would look better if I used a whole premade book layout.

  4. I have gone back and forth on printing 4x6 photos and putting them in an album vs making an actual photo book. I think it's interesting how the photo books seem way more popular now- I suppose it's because it takes up less space? I try to do print or make an album at the end of every year, but I don't really enjoy doing it.. I wonder if I let some time pass and then went back I would enjoy it more.

    1. I think I like photo books because of less space and also because I can print another if needed. I don't super enjoy the process of making the albums but I really like having the albums and printing them so I try to think about that. I always get a bit bored of it in the summer months since I'm so far from printing... but come fall it's nice to start getting them printed and I don't think I would want to do a whole year in one go

  5. I love that you're making these photo books. I think you're right that you take them out and look at them more often than you would pull up photos in a folder on your computer.

    I take a lot of photos for the same reasons that you mentioned - they're huge memory triggers for me. I usually only make books for special occasions or vacations, but it makes sense to do annual books when you have kids!

    1. I wish I had yearly photo albums from pre-kids - we went on so many adventures and photos from those are lost in all the different phones / computers / website storage I used at the time. I do have some specific albums from certain holidays but sometimes the album isn't as good as the holiday was... and I usually can't even remember when the holiday was anymore haha.